The rise of extremism and the death of reason

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid 

ghah attacked

Pic courtesy of Aliran.com

The hostility and animosity targeted to fellow Malaysian, whose opposing views may not be in line with the doctrines endorsed by the ruling elite, is dangerously becoming a standardize template used to instil fear from would be ‘dissenters’. Ironically, just a few weeks ago, our Prime Minister told the world how there is a need to ‘break the cycle where one group gains power only to wield it against another’ and to provide an ‘inclusive’ platform that reflected the ‘pluralistic society’ we live in. His speech was nothing more than yet another lip service to appease and deceive international critics – an ideological dishonesty Malaysians have grown to love and hate.

On 12 October 2014, Suaram and GHAH (Gabungan Hapuskan Akta Hasutan) organized a gathering in Penang to call for the abolishment of the sedition act. What should have been a peaceful gathering turned into a whirlwind pandemonium, instigated by none other than the usual suspects – hired hooligans from the far right. Just a few minutes after the event started, a mob of Malay men disrupted the event with overzealous fervor; which reaffirms that the threat of extremism is fast becoming a disease that can eventually destroy our country.

The ruling elite saturate our society with fear. They tell us to fear the loss of certain socio-political rights, the Communist threat, the Christian agenda and other creative fibs they conjure in order to remain in power. They exploit the fears of those who are most gullible and uninformed. For the rest of us, we can see through the lies and recognize the price our future generation will pay, if we allow the rot to perpetuate further.

Calls that condone extremism and racially motivated intimidation have become more apparent and several right wing groups have become increasingly vocal because they have been granted undue consent to do so. This occurs because the ruling elite are aware that socio-political reforms in our society are inevitable; it is just a matter of time before the walls of oppression start crumbling down.

Fanaticism and bigotry have found a certain stronghold in our society, as the acceptance and influence of universal values have slowly eroded, genuine intellectualism is now seem more of a taboo – a threat that should be exterminated rather than a quality we should uphold. Such causes are due to a number of factors and is often seen as a ‘chain reaction’ that reflects ineffective policies, waning quality of life and education, unemployment and questionable political leadership. It can be said that although political ideologies fuel the fire of extremism, it is the psychological aspect that facilitates and perpetuates such evils to linger in our society.

The disillusionment that becomes increasingly apparent in some factions, give way to radical and extremist philosophies. Only the victims of severe socio-economic and political inequalities will start rebelling against universal values that uphold tolerance, respect and sound moral logic. When disenchantment and resentment become widespread, it makes it easier for the ruling elite to utilize the ‘divide and rule’ tactic – masked under nationalistic catchphrases and patriotism that is anti-democratic, totalitarian and somewhat fascist. The sentiments of an overtly strong nationalism and weak democratic practices allow extremism to flourish. The ruling elite will use this concoction to manipulate the broken dreams and the unfulfilled hopes of certain factions by feeding them government backed propaganda.

The only way out of this is through comprehensive and accurate understanding of such phenomenon. Extremism and other racially motivated violence are all part and parcel of a political agenda created by the ruling elite. Although, Malaysia’s political ethos may not seem to honor democracy and the just rights conferred to its citizens, the terror created by extremism is manmade, fabricated and by all means, not natural, therefore, can be brought down.

* Syerleena Abdul Rashid currently serves as DAPSY Bukit Bendera Secretary and DAP Wanita Bukit Bendera Political Education Director

* The views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the columnist

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